Catriona Matthew & Matilda Castren
Catriona Matthew (left) is the first European captain to win the Solheim Cup twice

Rookie Leona Maguire starred as Europe retained the Solheim Cup with a hard-fought 15-13 victory over the United States in Ohio.

The first Irishwoman to play in the competition won her singles match 5&4 on Sunday, to remain unbeaten and set the tone for a thrilling victory.

Matilda Castren’s winning putt on the 18th sparked an outpouring of emotion among the Europeans, who were considered rank outsiders in the build-up to the match, having won just once previously in the US.

By the time Emily Pedersen won Monday’s final singles match, the celebrations were in full swing.

Chants of “Beany we love you” reverberated around Inverness Golf Club as the small but loud visiting contingent lauded Catriona Matthew, with the Scot the first European captain to win the competition twice after the memorable win at Gleneagles in 2019.

“It’s just unbelievable. My team have been so fantastic all week,” Matthew told Sky Sports.

“I’m so proud of them. We knew it was going to be tough with just a handful of European fans. They hung in and came out with a great finish yesterday. It was a great start and then got a little dodgy.

“It was nerve-wracking. We got three and a half [points] out of the first four and then the tide was turning.”

Maguire’s eye-catching show

Matthew was a veteran player in Europe’s only previous win on American soil in Colorado in 2013 but this time around their success was underpinned by a debutant in the shape of Maguire.

The 26-year-old announced herself in fine style on the 17th staging of the biennial event, winning three and a half points from the four matches she contested on the opening two days.

And she claimed the first point in Monday’s 12 singles matches with an emphatic 5&4 win over Jennifer Kupcho.

It reinforced the visitor’s already strong overnight position, moving Europe 10-7 ahead, and contributed to ensuring that the huge galleries of home supporters had little to get excited about.

Maguire, who was the only player from either side to feature in all five matches, recorded four and a half points overall, a record for a rookie.

Her crushing win over Kupcho also saw her become only the third player in Solheim Cup history to earn her team more than four points in a single competition.

Madelene Sagstrom and Celine Boutier edged Catriona Matthew’s side closer to their target of 14 points needed to retain the trophy, before American wins for world number one Nelly Korda, Brittany Altomare and Megan Khang threatened a dramatic turnaround.

More to follow.

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